Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs,  at a UN Security Council Briefing on Bosnia and Herzegovina

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May 15, 2024

Thank you, Mr. President. High Representative Schmidt, thank you for your briefing and for your recent report on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We also welcome the current chair of the presidency’s participation today.

Mr. President. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s stability is essential to preventing regional conflict and ensuring peace and security in Europe.

Nearly 30 years ago, the Dayton Peace Agreement brought an end to a terrible war. The Office of the High Representative and the mandate for EUFOR ALTHEA were rooted in the Dayton agreement and remain critical to maintaining the country’s stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

The Office of the High Representative continues to play a central role in ensuring implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement.

The High Representative and his Office have been instrumental in ensuring that key institutions have continued to function, despite the efforts of certain politicians to undermine them.

The High Representative and his Office merit the full support of this Council and the international community.

Mr. President. The United States remains steadfast in our support of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and multi-ethnic character.

We fully support the High Representative and his ability to exercise all necessary authorities, including the Bonn Powers, until the 5+2 Agenda has been fulfilled.

The High Representative’s use of Bonn Powers is complementary to the EU accession process. Their use facilitates the country’s efforts to make the reforms required to advance along the EU path.

We agree with the High Representative’s report that the European Council’s decision to open accession talks is a “game changer,” in terms of presenting opportunities for all the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The risk of missing these opportunities cannot be overstated. Of the many challenges confronting the country, none is greater than escalatory rhetoric, especially secessionist talk and actions.

Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik, in particular, has acted to undermine state institutions. He regularly calls for the dissolution of the country. Dodik’s dangerous actions and secessionist rhetoric threaten peace and stability in the region. The international community must push back against such rhetoric.

Genocide denial also prevents reconciliation. Let me be clear: It is a historical fact that genocide was committed in Srebrenica. This is a settled legal conclusion, confirmed by international criminal tribunals and the International Court of Justice.

Commemorating historical truths and accepting facts is important and moves the region forward on a path towards reconciliation. And honoring the victims of genocide reinforces the values reflected in the UN Charter.

Mr. President. The United States will continue to use all available tools, including sanctions, to promote accountability for those who enable corruption and act to destabilize the country.

We encourage the international community to take a more active role in supporting the Office of the High Representative, as well as countering efforts to undermine its authority.

The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina have chosen a secure, democratic, and prosperous future, firmly anchored in the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. This Council should support them in achieving that future.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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